LIHI Certificate #102 - Putts Bridge Project, Massachusetts

The Putts Bridge Project is located on the Chicopee River in the Towns of Wilbraham and Ludlow, and the City of Springfield in Hampden County, Massachusetts. The Project dam crosses the town line between Springfield and Ludlow; the powerhouse is located in Ludlow. The impoundment extends in a northeasterly direction, bordering Springfield and Ludlow. The Project was originally constructed in 1918 by the Ludlow Manufacturing Company.

Although the Chicopee River is only 18 miles long, its watershed is 721 square miles, the largest in all of Massachusetts, and the largest tributary watershed to the Connecticut River. During the Industrial Revolution, the Chicopee River became a particularly sought-after destination for hydropower, largely because it drops 260 feet over its course.

The Putts Bridge project is situated upstream of three other hydroelectric facilities located on the Chicopee River and downstream of two other dams on the Chicopee River as well as other dams on the Ware, Swift and Quaboag Rivers. The two upstream projects are Collins (LIHI #88), and Red Bridge (LIHI #96). Downstream are Indian Orchard (LIHI #112), Chicopee Falls (FERC No. 6522), and Dwight (LIHI #170). The project includes a dam, concrete headgate structure, two conduits, forebay, trashrack, intake structure, a powerhouse with two generating units, a tailrace channel, appurtenant facilities.

The dam crosses the Chicopee River in a roughly north-to-south direction, and is a concrete gravity structure approximately 223 feet long by 22 feet high. The northern abutment of the dam is contiguous with the abutment for the Ludlow Avenue Bridge. Adjacent to this abutment are a skimming gate and a deep sluice gate. A 23-foot-long non-overflow section extends from the gate area to the 200-foot-long ogee spillway which extends across the river to the south abutment. A concrete retaining wall extends from the south abutment for approximately 133 feet. The dam creates a 1,700-foot-long bypassed reach.

The concrete headgate structure is adjacent to the northeast abutment of the dam. Six motorized headgates, each approximately 12 feet wide by 13.3 feet high direct flow to a double-barreled, underground concrete conduit that extends 647 feet from the impoundment to the forebay. Each barrel of the conduit is 16.5 feet high by 12.5 feet wide.

Project Name Putts Bridge
LIHI Certificate No. 102
LIHI Certificate Term December 20, 2017 - December 19, 2022
Owner Central Rivers Power MA, LLC
State Massachusetts
Location Located at approximate river mile 9.2 on the Chicopee River in the Towns of Wilbraham and Ludlow and City of Springfield in Hampden County, Massachusetts.
Installed Capacity 3.9 MW
Average Annual Generation 13,713 MWh
Facility Type Limited pond-and-release
FERC No. P-10677 exempt 1992

The forebay is a reinforced concrete structure measuring 40 feet wide by 104 feet long. The forebay is 41.5 feet high, with a 2.5-foot diameter spigot type drain gate at the base, and an 18-foot-wide skimming gate on the north forebay. The trashrack is situated along the western forebay wall, extending from the floor of the forebay. There is a mechanical trash rake mounted on rails along the entire width of the trashrack. Wooden headgates, measuring 14.3 feet square, isolate the forebay from the generating units.

The powerhouse has a concrete substructure with a brick superstructure. It houses two operating units, No.2 and No.3, and one retired unit, No. 4. Unit No.1 was never installed although the turbine pit is there. Unit No.5 is a retired waterwheel exciter. The project has a combined capacity of 3.9 MW. The tailrace canal runs 355 feet from the powerhouse in a westerly direction to where the flow re-enters the Chicopee River.

The project operates in a store-and-release mode and impounds a 65-acre reservoir. The project provides a 25 cfs minimum flow to the bypass reach and restricts drawdowns to 1 foot daily. This flow regime was approved after studies were conducted in conjunction with US Fish and Wildlife Service, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP). The studies concluded that the flow regime provided adequate downstream flows, water quality, and aquatic habitat.

Waters within the project reach are designated as Class B and testing in the impoundment found impairments for pathogens due to combined sewer overflows upstream of the project. The bypass reach was found to exceed Class B parameters for dissolved oxygen and water temperature based on the studies mentioned above. MDEP confirms that the project does not cause or contribute to any adverse water quality conditions.

The Chicopee River watershed is not currently the subject of migratory fish management efforts and downstream dams block access; however, American eel is found throughout the Chicopee River system. Resident fish species include bluegill, pickerel, bass, sunfish, sucker, and many more. Though not designed for fish passage, the minimum flow gate can pass riverine fish downstream over the dam.

The project lands consist of roughly 4 acres. The shoreline consists primarily of shrub and forested wetland but lie outside the project boundary. No lands of significant ecological value are found within the project area.

No threatened or endangered species are potentially present in the project vicinity. Though the Northern long-eared bat has the potential to exist statewide, the project does not contain any critical habitat for the species and the urban environment is unlikely to support roosting trees.

The project itself is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Consultation with the State Historic Preservation Office is required before conducting any construction activity with potential to modify existing historic facilities.

Recreational resources at the project include an informal boat ramp and fishing access on the east side of the impoundment. Public access is provided free of charge.


Certification History

August 8, 2019: The decision to recertify the Putts Bridge Hydroelectric Project is final. No appeals were received during the appeal period which closed on July 19, 2019. The new certification term for the Project is from December 20, 2017 through December 19, 2022.

June 19, 2019: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has preliminarily approved Low Impact Certification for the Putts Bridge Hydroelectric Project. The Certification includes two conditions:

  • Condition 1:  Should the Facility Owner receive notification during the term of this LIHI Certification from either the USFWS or MDFW that upstream and/or downstream passage for anadromous or catadromous fish is required, based on sound science / technical data that has shown that such passage is required at the Putts Bridge Project, the Facility Owner shall forward a copy of that notification and its response to LIHI within 45 days of receipt of the notification.
  • Condition 2: Should the Facility Owner determine that ground disturbance or significant changes in project operations are desired during the term of this LIHI Certification that could affect habitat for the swamp dock, the Facility Owner shall conduct studies and filings deemed necessary by the state to determine impacts to swamp dock that may occur in the Project area. LIHI shall be provided copies of agency communications (e.g. approvals, denials, mitigation measures, etc.) associated with such desired Project changes. This information should be submitted as part of the LIHI annual compliance statements.

This decision is preliminary pending the 30-day appeal window. Only those who commented on the initial application during the 60-day comment period are eligible to file an appeal. Such appeal needs to include an explanation as to how the Project does not meet the LIHI criteria. Appeal requests can be submitted by email to comments@lowimpacthydro.org with “Putts Bridge Hydroelectric Project” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 329 Massachusetts Ave, Suite 6, Lexington, MA 02420. All requests will be posted to the website.  The applicant will have an opportunity to respond and any response will also be posted. Requests must be received by 5 pm Eastern time on July 19, 2019.  The full application and reviewers report are available below.

If no appeal requests are received and the decision becomes final, the Certification term for the Project will be December 20, 2017 for a five (5) year term which will expire on December 19, 2022.

April 8, 2019: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has received a complete application for Low Impact Recertification of the Putts Bridge Hydroelectric Project.  LIHI is seeking public comment on this application.  Specifically, we are interested in knowing whether you think the Project meets the LIHI Low Impact Certification Criteria, as revised in the 2nd Edition Handbook.  Please review the program and criteria in LIHI’s revised Handbook and then review the Project’s application materials below.

Comments that are directly tied to specific LIHI criteria (flows, water quality, fish passage, etc.) will be most helpful, but all comments will be considered.  Comments may be submitted to the Institute by e-mail at comments@lowimpacthydro.org with “Putts Bridge Project Comments” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 329 Massachusetts Avenue, Suite 6, Lexington, MA 02420.  Comments must be received on or before 5 pm Eastern time on June 7, 2019 to be considered.  All comments will be posted to the web site and the applicant will have an opportunity to respond.  Any response will also be posted.

March 12, 2013: The Putts Bridge Hydroelectric Project has been certified as low impact for a five year term, effective December 20, 2012 and expiring December 20, 2017, with the following conditions:

  • Condition satisfied 2015.As the final confirmation that the recently submitted Minimum Flow and Impoundment Fluctuation Monitoring Plan sufficiently addresses compliance with the various flow requirements is contingent upon review and approval of six months of flow data by the USFWS, Essential Power shall provide LIHI a letter documenting that such records have been provided within nine months of Project certification.
  • Condition satisfied 2015.Essential Power shall certify to LIHI that the 24-hour period of empirical data to compare with the calculated flows for USFWS's evaluation of the Flow Monitoring Plan has been provided. Essential Power shall also provide LIHI, documentation of the USFWS review/approval or concerns found with this data comparison within nine months of Project Certification.
  • Condition satisfied 2015. Should the review process in Condition #2 find that modifications are needed to the Flow Monitoring Plan, Essential Power shall forward a copy of the modifications, along with resource agency approval of these modifications, within one month of the Plan submission to FERC. Essential Power shall also provide LIHI a copy of FERC's final Plan approval within one month of receipt of this approval.

February 18, 2013: Public comment period on application has closed.

December 20, 2012: Essential Power LLC has submitted an application for the certification of the Putts Bridge project. Application has been posted and the public comment period has opened.